Ok, thank you all for response. As far as I see things now, the best way
to upgrade from one stable release to the next is via source upgrade.
Configuration files probably need some attention, because mergemaster
cannot be run remotely. Upgrading from one major release to the next
(4.x -> 5.x) is practically not possible remotely, or at least _very_
difficult. Upgrade problems like the statd issue will not occur with
stable branches. There is no other good way to upgrade remotely, is it?

What about old files from the previous release? Will these be deleted
properly with source upgrade? I've heard of occasional problems with old
libraries lying around.

Are there any efforts to improve the software managment in the base
system? NetBSD for instance has once started a system-pkgsrc project
(but does not seem to continue this), which I think is a great idea.
Managing the system software with pkg_add and friends would be nice IMO.

/Roman

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